Torbutrol Side Effects in Dogs

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Torbutrol's most common side effect is sedation.
Torbutrol's most common side effect is sedation. (Image: Push/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If your dog experiences frequent coughing, your vet might prescribe Torbutrol for cough control. Torbutrol side effects in dogs are relatively minor, but the drug is contraindicated in canines with certain conditions. The drug's generic name is butorphanol tartrate, but it's also marketed under the brand names Torbugesic and Stadol.

Torbutrol for Dogs

Manufactured by Zoetis, Torbutrol is usually prescribed for dogs with chronic, "nonproductive" coughing. Nonproductive means that the animal is not coughing up any mucus. If he is, the dog requires another medication, since Torbutrol can completely suppress coughing and that mucus must come out. The drug is also prescribed for pain relief, but its effects for that purpose are short-lived. Administered in tablet form, Torbutrol is usually prescribed for a short-term treatment, generally a week or less.

Allergic Reaction

Some dogs might suffer an allergic reaction to Torbutol. Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, breathing difficulties, facial swelling, vomiting and skin reactions. If your dog experiences any signs of an allergic reaction, take him to the vet immediately, and don't give him more of the drug.

Side Effects

Since Torbutrol is an opiate, it will cause dogs to sleep more than normal and behave as if under sedation while on the drug. That's a normal side effect, and your vet will explain it to you. Rare side effects include appetite loss and diarrhea. It can cause slowing of the heart rate, although isn't usually a problem with healthy dogs. Your vet will check your dog's heart rate before prescribing the drug. She might choose another medication if your dog's heart rate is abnormally slow or your pet is elderly.

Precautions and Contraindications

Pregnant or lactating dogs shouldn't receive Torbutrol. If your dog has been diagnosed with heartworm disease -- not to be confused with taking a monthly heartworm preventive -- he should not receive this drug. Dogs with liver or kidney disease, Addison's disease or hypothyroidism should not be given Torbutrol. Dogs recently experiencing head trauma shouldn't have the drug, nor should animals with any central nervous system issues. Dogs with water on the brain, or hydrocephalus, shouldn't receive Torbutrol. Avoid giving Torbutrol to dogs taking any other pain or sedating medications, or antihistamines.

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